Sunday, May 30 2010
We decided to take our young stock to do day 1 of the Wild West ride up in Nevada City. The race was on Friday. We met Skip at Starbucks on Thursday morning and headed out to the ranch. Our friend Megan Robinson met us at the ranch as well. She was going to ride her five year old at the race with us. It rained most of the drive.
Skip and Jeremy drove together and Megan and I drove together. About half way there we made a stop at In-N-Out. Good times. This is the only time the rain really took a break, when we weren't driving. How ironic.
We arrived at the ride site around 3 pm. It was looking really bad as far as the weather goes. It was freezing outside and looked like some form of precipitation was going to happen at any moment. We were originally planning to pre-ride but scratched that idea as soon as we unloaded the horses. It was starting to rain. We blanketed the horses, hung hay bags and filled buckets quickly. Then we all sat in the trailer. After we warmed up we checked in and then vetted in. Then went back in to warm up.
I am not over playing how cold it was. It was 34 degrees outside and wet. I had to put another blanket on Strut (the West Virginia horse) as he was too cold with only two on.
It was now about 4:15. We had 2:45 more minutes to kill before the ride meeting. We sat in the warm trailer eating chips and salsa. Then I decided to make dinner. We finished up and headed over to the ride meeting.
The meeting was straight forward. After the meeting it stopped raining and started snowing. There was a campfire and Melissa Ribley brought out marshmallows to roast. That was a first for me, roasting marshmallows in the snow, in California, in late May!!
It snowed and sleeted most of the night. In the morning it had stopped. It looked promising. (This is the part where I went wrong and didn't wear enough clothes.) We happily saddled up. I rode Strut, he would be the babysitter horse for the three five year olds that were all doing their first endurance rides. Skip rode Tin Roof, who is over 16 hands, honest to God. Jeremy rode Stirgess, Smitty's 3/4 brother. Megan rode her own horse, Congo.
We started about ten minutes late. All of the horses started out relatively calm... relatively.
The ground at this ride has a lot of clay based soil. With all of the weather the ground was extremely slippery in places. There were also puddles that took up the whole road and with the horses being green they thought it would be best to go on the edges to try to avoid the water. The problem with that was that the edges were on a tilt and the ground was really slick, so every time they tried that, they almost fell down.
Around mile 7, Stirgess became Smitty's true brother. He was coming unglued. He started leaping and running in place and going very sideways. Since the ground was so slick he was also falling over! After about 20 min. of this he was really starting to effect the other young guys, as well as Strut. Jeremy got off and was leading him at times to try to calm him down. We think that he was upset because of all of the stop and go from the footing and not being able to move out at a constant pace. After a lot of effort, Jeremy decided it would be safest if he separated from the group and did a steady pace. Away they went. Everything was calm again.
This is when the weather moved in and the sleet began. It alternated between rain, sleet and snow all the way into lunch. This is also where I felt like an idiot for believing that it would be nice out and not dressing warmer.
Strut, Congo and Roof all looked great at lunch and recovered instantly and were in the 40's range for heart rates. It was so damn cold that they ought to have! After vetting the horses through and feeding and blanketing them, I needed to defrost. It was crazy how cold I was. I spent the whole check in front of the heater. It turned off at one point and I got up and set the thermostat for even warmer.
I dressed VERY warmly for the afternoon loop. I knew that I would probably sweat but at this point I would like to be sweating.
We headed out of lunch and climbed up the muddy trail that we had come into lunch on. After the highway crossing we trotted whenever it wasn't too slick. The horses all handled the ride really well. There were some really tricky parts for the newbies.
I got my wish and really got to sweat. The afternoon was better than the morning as far as weather goes.
The last 8 or so miles of the race were on the best footing of the day. We did an out and back on a really firm logging road. The horses were all very happy about that. We let them trot and canter to the end. As we approached the actual finish line Roof and Congo were in front and when they saw the finish line they froze and were scared to cross the line. Strut encouraged them and they crossed.
Stirgess had finished a long time before we did. His CRI at the end was 44/40. Pretty cool, now he just needs to learn to chill. Hopefully a lesson he will learn this coming weekend at the "Just Coe Crazy" ride. It will be a safer place to have a "discussion" with him about that!
All of our guys finished looking great. We packed up and got ready to leave. Megan and I went to look at our ride pictures and they were cool as they had snow in the background.
When we were ready to leave we all sat around and waited for Tim to show up. He was picking up Jeremy and I to take us to my Mother In Laws house for her birthday. Tim was supposed to be at the race by 5. At 6:10 we got in the trucks and left. We didn't have cell service so we really didn't know where Tim was. When we got down the mountain we got a hold of him. He had been stuck in holiday traffic. We met up with him at a gas station on the way out.
Skip and Megan took the horses back and we went to Minden, NV for the weekend. In all it was a successful race, but the coldest one that I have done in a long time.
Maybe we will see some of you at the Coe ride this weekend.